Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Classes and Other Fun

The challenges and opportunities of being disciples of Jesus Christ ended my last (as well as first!) contribution to this blog. Discipleship is founded on prayer. And, certainly the structure of a seminarian’s day makes prayer easier than it might be for other folks. After all, prayer is part of our job!

There are other dimensions of the seminarian experience. In Church-speak, these dimensions are often referred to as the “four pillars”: intellectual; human; spiritual; and pastoral.

A note or two on the “intellectual formation pillar.” At its most basic level, intellectual formation occurs in the classroom. One thing most people know about seminarians is that we go to class, hopefully regularly and with acceptable grades (!!!). The content and types of classes taken by all seminarians are governed by national norms. These norms serve to provide some assurance that all seminarians are being exposed to the same type of material.

This semester I am taking courses which focus upon subjects such as preaching; the “how to’s” of spiritual direction; canon law and marriage; and the spirituality of priesthood. This is pretty typical for guys at my point in their seminarian experience. Having grinded through philosophy and other more “head-y” subjects, the time has finally arrived for more “hands on” (applied) coursework.

Space does not permit me to explain all that I think I’ve learned in my classes. However, these lessons are certain. One, avoid lunches high in carbohydrates and sugar taken prior to “heavy” courses in the afternoons. Two, there IS a reason why every course is required---even if it is not readily apparent to (you or me as) seminarians! And, three, folks back home expect even seminarians to know a little something about theology---the key remains in our ability to relate the same to common human experiences.

Outside-class reading---conversations with folks within as well as outside the seminary community---and keeping up with developments in the larger world---are all important to the intellectual formation of seminarians. I try to engage in all of them---and to avoid big meals before my Friday afternoon classes! Next up: what else do seminarians do besides pray and study?

Until then…..


Steven Henriksen

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seminary life...

With one week of classes under my proverbial belt, the spring semester is off and running! I chuckle when I hear the word, “spring”, applied to the semester. This is Wisconsin after all, and snow has been and will be a constant companion until well after spring’s official arrival in March!

With school officially underway, I am also reminded that there is a certain comfortable meditative rhythm which permeates the environment. Every morning, usually at 7am, the seminarian community gathers and recites the Morning Prayer section from the Liturgy of the Hours. Morning Prayer consists of excerpts from the Book of Psalms with Scriptural text, general intercessions and hymns weaved in between.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church; it represents a way in which the entire Catholic community, local and universal, stays connected. A similar prayer service known as Vespers occurs in the evening, right before dinner. Along with daily celebration of the Eucharist, these three opportunities for connecting with God serve as important milestones which frame the day of seminarians.

Sacred Heart, the seminary I attend, includes over 90 seminarians, representing dioceses and locales not only within the United States but across the world. From Seattle to Fort Worth and Honolulu to parts of the continents of Africa and Asia, the universality of the Church is evident in the faces, accents and perspectives of my brother seminarians. It sometimes feels a bit like living in the United Nations building although without views of the Manhattan skyline!

Within that diversity of community, there exists a common purpose: to be prepared as future priests. Prayer is the foundation of that formation; although that fact may seem a bit obscure as we move from one class to another; one gathering to the next and; one conversation to the other.

Over the next several weeks, I plan to share more about my experiences as a seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Louisville at Sacred Heart seminary. Seminaries are interesting places: meditative and orderly; loud and earthy; full of laughter, frowns and even a little drama, from time to time. In other words, seminary life mirrors the complexity found in the lives of the People of God. Blessings to you as you navigate the complexities of being disciples over the coming week!
--Steve Henriksen

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog changes

Our blog has went without updates for awhile and for good reason. When Fr. Jeff Shooner started the blog, he was in a different position in the Vocation Office and was pastor of St. Lawrence parish. Since the last post, he has been appointed Vicar for Priests along with Vocation Director. He is also the Sacramental Moderator for St. Boniface. Changes were also made in the Vocation Office as administrative assistant Brenda Gaffney retired and the office experienced some reorganization. Current Vocation Office staff include Linda Banker as Associate Director for Formation and Carrie Williamson as Associate Director for Vocations.

All that being said, it's time to blow the dust off the blog. In the upcoming months, we will be featuring our seminarians as they blog about their lives and experiences in formation. We will also periodically talk about the happenings of the Vocation Office. We can also be followed at Facebook at www.facebook.com/vocation and on Twitter @ArchlouVocation.